What They Don't Tell Students at Law School Part-1
This series of articles is based upon the outstanding works of Lawrence S. Krieger, Clinical Professor and Director of Clinical Externship Programs at the Florida State University College of Law. Mr. Krieger has been teaching in the area of personal development and stress management for more than a quarter of a century. This series of articles borrows heavily the concepts from his "What We're Not Telling Law Students - and Lawyers - That They Really Need to Know: Some Thoughts-in-Action toward Revitalizing the Profession from Its Roots," Journal of Law and Health 13.1 (1998), and his paper “Psychological Insights: Why Our Students and Graduates Suffer, And What We Might Do About It,” Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors, Vol.1.(2002).
Krieger holds very rightly, “while more overt “professionalism” problems are commonly discussed today, most teachers never address the questions of well-being or career satisfaction. This is particularly troubling given the intensely elevated levels of a broad range of psychological symptoms among law students and lawyers, and of career dissatisfaction, substance abuse, and suicide among lawyers.” (Krieger, 2002)
It is deemed to be ‘realistic' that law schools and law firms should focus on external rewards such as high grades and salaries, on gaining image and status through an established hiring process culminating in partnership positions at law firms, and on impressing others. But in truth, this approach is so ‘unrealistic' that it leaves out the most important considerations in the lives of human beings and social persons – the importance of relationships, the crucial nature of inherently enjoyable and meaningful pursuits, and the achievement of fundamental human needs and goals.
Law students are taught to be ‘lawyers' and quite often forget what it is to be ‘human' and develop habits and routines that are professionally productive, but counterproductive to their fruitful existences as humans. It is preached that since they joined law schools to become lawyers, becoming a professional lawyer would automatically take care of all problems, worries, equations, and aspects of human life that could possibly exist.
This does not work, and this is ‘unrealistic' because law students have the right and opportunity to cease to be lawyers, but they cannot cease to be humans as long as they live. Actually, what happens is that huge law school student loans that can result in felony if unpaid become the prior concern weighing in on the minds of students to the exclusion of all else. Students cannot be blamed if they put such priorities first. What is to be seen is whether such choices to incur huge loans and relegate human values and priorities to the backseat are at all sane choices or choices propelled by the belief that ‘everything' can be purchased by money.
Law students truly need to understand that their aspirations for glory and achievements have value only in the context of a happy and well-balanced life. Career goals should never be created upon the perception that higher standards of living can substitute higher standards of life. A happy farmhand can have ....
Customer Service: Another Thing They Don't Teach You in Law School Working in the law, like working in most other professional fields, entails a certain amount of customer service. Some might say the customer service parts of the job are the most important - especially if you want to get ahead in a large firm ....
While students in law school should be more aware than others of their legal rights as well as limitations, many happy-go-lucky souls fail to distinguish between their rights between public and private institutional settings. ....
The answer is blowing in the wind, of course, for applicants for LSAT have dropped by at least 16%, law schools are being challenged for their employment data, and students are refusing to buy into those huge debts already. Law schools are being forced to cut down class size, ostensibly to enhance quality of education, though it is questionable as to why they did not focus on the quality enhancement until the number of LSAT applicants began to fall drastically. What is to be seen, that whether the enhancement of quality touted by law schools cutting down the sizes of their classes and in other schools which are still maintaining their old class sizes increase focus on the vital aspects of learning that are being missed till now. That you go to a law school to become a lawyer does not mean that you can refute your human needs that may not match with the stereotype of a lawyer preached by the law school.
This article raises the issue, an issue in which Krieger has delved deeply for the last 25 years and more, and in the next parts of this series we would be finding out how, as law students, we can learn to be extremely successful lawyers and strike the right balance between professionalism and an enjoyable human existence.